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But the theme of change was not limited to the exposition facility, as Stone South America is moving in a new direction in other significant ways. The long-time official sponsor of the event, SIMAGRAM, will no longer fill this role, and instead, ABIEMG will now be the official sponsor of Stone South America. ABIEMG, an association created in 2000 to be the voice of manufacturers and exporters in the Brazilian stone industry, is led by its president, Jose Gilberto Sibin, of Emigran Granitos; vice president Jose Luis Santolin of Marbrasa; finance director, Keith Cattley of Brasvit; and administrative director, Paulo Cezar Fleischfresser of Michelangelo Marble.
According to show management, just over 11,000 people attended Stone South America in 2002, with the majority coming from Brazil, particularly the Southeastern part of the country (over 70% of Brazilian visitors came from this region). As is the case each year, the overwhelming reason people attended the fair was to see new products and meet new suppliers, since Brazil is still a country whose stone industry is evolving, especially in the export sector. Furthermore, based on the strength of the U.S. dollar, Brazil is still a very important source for the American stone industry as well other countries. Several American importers visited the fair, most of whom visit Brazil regularly to see their current suppliers, but who were looking for new stones and new sources to add to their existing lines. Statistics supplied by VNU support this trend, with 65% of visitors saying they came to the exhibition for one of these two reasons. At least 20% of the respondents said they planned to make purchases at the fair, and there was ample evidence of transactions taking place on the show floor. Exhibitors were present from many countries throughout the world, including Italy, Spain, Germany, Peru, China, Korea, India and the U.S. (Stone World was the lone U.S. exhibitor).
The last three days of the show were the strongest, and there were some who called for the show to be shortened to three days, while others valued the extra time to meet with clients. Stone South America will be held at the Transamerica Expo Center in Sao Paulo from March 12 to 15 in 2003.